SAP recently announced the availability of its Connected Parking solution – new Internet of Things (IoT) software offering parking providers a digital backbone to consolidate parking space availability across locations, reserve parking spaces, publish real-time status of parking space and improve use, visibility and efficiency. I had a chance to catch up with Gil Perez, SAP Senior Vice President Digital Assets & IoT and General Manager of SAP Connected Vehicles & IoT security, to discuss Connected Parking, the overall Vehicle Network vision and his take on SAP’s overall Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. Here is a quick video introduction of Gil:

CS: Can you please introduce yourself to our readers and give us your take on SAP’s Connected Parking initiative?

GP: Sure, my name is Gil Perez and I am based in Palo Alto, I am the SVP of an R&D team called Digital Assets and IoT. Our development teams focuses on Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Industrial IoT solutions. My teams develop several solutions including the SAP Connected Vehicle solution, with Connected Parking being our latest product in that overall solution.

First, let’s take a step back and look at the overall use case itself. Therein many areas, like hotel rooms, seats on a train, airline tickets, taxi hailing, etc. There is always a system that maintains the inventory where customer/consumer can make reservations ahead of time or get access to the inventory in ‘real time’. Yet parking remains one of the few industries where such an ‘inventory’ is not available on a municipal and state level.

Inefficiency in parking is a global problem, one faced by millions of people when they come to an urban setting – looking for a parking spot, circling the block, getting frustrated, honking, etc. Our goal is to make everything more efficient, provide commercial benefits, improve the vitality of the city and also reduce CO² emissions.

Furthermore, the parking problem is not only limited to urban centers. Trucks, truckers and truck stops have the same problem. Truckers are not allowed to park anywhere they want, they are being monitored and regulated, and these drivers have limitations on the number of hours they’re allowed to drive, after which they are required to rest. Once in that situation, the trucker settles for the next truck stop – but what happens when there isn’t an open parking spot? Truckers either parks illegally, and risk potentially getting cited, or continue driving to the next truck stop, with the risk of  being stopped by Highway Patrol and cited for exceeding the time limit they’re allowed to drive. So that’s another area we’re trying to improve, logistics and long-haul transportation networks. Moving from a ‘lose – lose’ situation for the driver to a ‘win- win’ where the Trucker finds a safe and legal parking location and the services improves the efficiency of his route

CS: Living in South Florida, trying to park anywhere in South Beach is always a hassle, never knowing whether a parking garage has any available spaces and more importantly, where those spaces are. A short drive over to Orlando and the benefits of organized parking are immediately visible in, for example, Disney Springs (used to be Downtown Disney). Is that what you’re trying to address and how?

On a recent trip to Orlando, I snapped a picture inside one of the new Disney Springs parking structures. Notice the number of spaces available in a particular row and sensors/cameras suspended from the ceiling.

GP: In order to get visibility into the number of spaces available in a parking facility, and provide the ability to reserve a spot, you need to integrate into what we call P.A.R.C – Parking Access Revenue Control, an ERP for parking locations. A facility looking to automate the dispensing of tickets, gate control, would simply license and integrate with P.A.R.C. The interesting thing about P.A.R.C, looking at its history, is that it originated with hardware – the gates that open and close allowing access into and out of the parking facilities, issuing paper tickets. Over time, it evolved into accepting credit cards, electronic payments, exchange of data, etc. These legacy systems, however, are very outdated and not set up to be a part of today’s digital age. SAP’s Connected Parking is an OEM solution. We created the software element for parking facilities to integrate with P.A.R.C. We are providing a modern cloud based system, with the ability to be monitored remotely, to anyone willing to move to a modern configuration and architecture. This is an IoT solution… helping to accelerate the digitization of the parking industry

To digitize the solution we focused on two design criteria with the goal of significantly lowering the maintenance costs and minimizing the operational complexity:

  1. Paperless approach – Remove/eliminate the paper from the process.  With paper comes also the need to refill the paper rolls and operate the components to dispense the ‘tickets’/receipts, etc… Significantly increasing the cost of the solution and the potential for a breakdown, so paperless is definitely the way to go.
  2. Cashless approach – Remove/eliminate the case based money (paper) from the process.  Handling of money, storing it, “sticky fingers” are done away with. We designed it to be cost effective and extremely efficient to operate it.

Operators of these facilities told us they wanted to accelerate the deployment of an OEM solution into their hardware, their specific implementation of the different hardware deployed in that specific parking structure. We’re providing a modern solution for parking structures to modernize their facilities. The same way NEST thermostats digitized the home, we are digitize the parking market.

CS: Around the end of September, SAP purchased the PLAT.ONE platform. From an R&D perspective, how will the PLAT.ONE platform integrate into the Connected Parking platform?

GP: There are many things that PLAT.ONE provides that are complimentary to what we’re doing. Here is a specific example of how it will work with Connected Parking. Sensors located at parking spaces connected to PLAT.ONE would then send the data over to the Connected Parking platform. Thus, you combine on-street parking sensor data to help drivers know ahead of time that there is no availability on street. Therefore, it is not advisable to look for parking on-street but rather go directly to an ‘off-street’ location. Enabling cities to improve the overall parking experience of their citizens. PLAT.ONE already have this deployed in Europe. In summary PLAT.ONE enables is to collect the IoT sensor-centric and then we combine it with the backend applications – in the case of Parking is it with SAP Connected Parking.

CS: All this data is being stored in SAP HANA. With this treasure trove of data, do you have a leg up with the car manufacturers?

GP: From a driver and a vehicle centric perspective, the data does not have to be provided by the OEM. Automotive OEM can leverage their vehicles data and in-dash infotainment system to create an integrated and compelling driving experience – like we demonstrated with in the past with BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen and SEAT.  Yet at the same time the parking service could be an app running on mobile devices – independent of the car/truck.

So when you’re driving somewhere, it’s not just the ETA the driver needs to ‘know’. It’s actually ETA (estimated time of arrival) + ETP (estimated time to park). This information can be derived from the vehicles date or from an app data.

We believe this kind of seamless and integrated experience is what consumers are really interested in – how to efficiently get to their destination and immediately park their vehicle.

CS: Final question, and I understand if you have reservations answering it. The president elect has put a lot of emphasis on “job creation”, and those of us keeping tabs on the Industrial Internet understand that IoT automation leads to a reduction in the labor force. What is your take on the Industrial Internet at SAP and how it will be impacted over the next 4 years?

GP: As we move forward with the digitization of the global parking industry it will drive additional demand and growth in this market and create jobs. Thus as the parking will be digitized, fitted with sensors and gates to manage the inventory, take payments and optimize the operation. This will drive significant investment in both the on-street and off-street parking locations. Developers and cities globally will want to invest and to address this need as the ROI on this investment will be very compelling – impacting the lives of every citizen in urban cities as well as the safety of truckers on the highways

As such we believe solutions like SAP Connected Parking are a great example of projects cities, developers globally can immediately embark on with a clear and immediate ROI and which will create new jobs.